The Dividing Tide – Episode 34

Jenna looked up from the slate she was practising her letters upon, rubbed out what she had written and began again. She was using her new skills in the form of a letter home.

Dear Garren, she wrote, the lead screeching against the slate as she painstakingly formed the words.

I miss you and Mamm-wynn more than I can say. I didn’t even have time to say goodbye.

She ran out of space and sat looking down at her words. If she kept on improving then, one day, she might even write a real letter, with paper and ink from her uncle’s desk, and send it with the mail coach to Bidreath.

She let out a sigh. What would be the point? Garren couldn’t read and besides, even if he could, it wouldn’t do any good. She’d promised to stay at Nankerris House for a year, and a whole year it had to be.

She looked through the window at the yellow daffodils nodding at the edge of the shrubbery. It seemed such a long time until Michaelmas. How was she to endure another six months?

With another sigh, she reached for a book that Jago had let her borrow from the library. It was all about sea birds and cliff-top flowers, the shore and the life of fish that lived in their seas. It gave her comfort to look at the beautiful illustrations for it reminded her of home.

As she turned the pages her longing grew, and gradually an idea began to form in her mind. By the time the gong sounded for supper she had a plan.

The following morning she knocked on the door of the library. She knew her uncle would be there for he never travelled to the mine until after luncheon on the Sabbath.

“Come!” His deep voice came faintly through the thick wood.

She pushed open the door and stepped inside.

Jago looked up from the stack of papers on his desk.

“Ah, Jenna. I’m rather busy. Can it wait?”

“I’m sorry, Uncle. I’ve disturbed you.” She stepped backwards. “I can come back another time.”

He leaned back in his chair, his face relaxing.

“No, no, it’s me who should apologise,” he said. “My work sometimes takes me over. Come along in. How may I help you?”

She stepped forwards, clenching her hands into fists to give herself courage.

“May I borrow the carriage tomorrow, please, Uncle?” she blurted out.

“The carriage?” He raised his eyebrows. “What do you need it for?”

“To go home. It would only be for a few hours, Uncle. I’d come straight back.” She felt her eyes sting, and blinked fiercely.

Jago picked up his pen, absently cleaned the nib on his blotting pad then slowly placed it back in its stand.

“You are not a prisoner here, Jenna,’ he said quietly.

“I know that, Uncle, I do. It’s just that . . .”

Her words petered out. This was more difficult than she thought it would be.

“I know you must miss your family,” he continued kindly, “but we cannot risk any possible misinterpretation of the will. Any contention could take years to resolve. That would have a disastrous effect upon our fortunes.

“Our agreement was for you to remain here at Nankerris House for the period of one year,” he reminded her gently. “I must ask you to adhere to that. I’m sure you can understand?”

“Yes, Uncle, of course I do.” She turned away, closing the door quietly behind her.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.